Union warns of 20 black lung cases


The number of former Queensland coalminers diagnosed with black lung disease has risen to eight, the miners union says.

The man, who is in his early 40s and the youngest of the eight to be diagnosed, worked at a number of mines throughout Queensland and NSW before finishing in the industry a year ago.

The CFMEU says it's aware of at least 12 other cases, and while the most recent case was yet to be confirmed by the state government, the union insists it had been detected by a respiratory specialist at Brisbane's Wesley Hospital.

Spokesman Steven Smyth said each announcement sent shock waves through the mining industry.

"Diagnoses are coming in more frequently and more cases are becoming public as medical assessments are coming back from specialists in the United States," he said.

"What we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg."

The union said the government was failing to treat the problem with the urgency required despite two inquiries.

Pneumoconiosis, which is also known as black lung, was all but eradicated 30 years ago.

An interim Senate report handed down in April blamed the re-emergence of the disease on a "perfect storm" of regulatory failure, indifference from the mining industry, poor dust control and patchy health monitoring.